Meeting Christ does not equal being born again. It does not even mean you have repented of your sins and sinful ways. When Peter met Jesus for the very first time, nothing changed for him; not because Jesus was powerless to bring about change in his life (Jesus changed Peter’s name, remember?) but because Peter did not believe and went back to his boats and nets. You can have the pure message of the gospel preached to you, but unless it is mixed with faith it will not profit you.
When Peter first met Jesus, it was because his brother Andrew had told told him “we have found the Messiah”. The Jews have been anticipating the coming of one who were usher in the Messianic age, a dispensation of peace and order and, most importantly, freedom from oppression and tyranny. So, of course, Peter was interested and went with his brother to meet this Messiah. It could be that Peter was disappointed with what he saw. He had probably expected the Messiah to be a tad more regal-looking. But Jesus was nothing close to that. Granted, Jesus changed his name from Simon to Cephas. But does this prove that Jesus was the Messiah? Not so fast. At best, he was a prophet – an unknown one for now.
So Peter went back to fishing right after meeting Jesus. He was untouched and unchanged, like many who had met Jesus for the first time. The biggest difference between them and Peter is that, for many, they would be persuaded (more like pressured) to believe in Him without delay. “You’ll never know,” they will be told, “you might get another chance to do so.” Such fear tactics are not godly – the way God would do it. Andrew knew better than to “force” his brother to believe in this Jesus. If Peter was not himself convinced (or convicted by the Holy Spirit) his belief and commitment would not be sincere or enduring.
There could be another reason Peter was unimpacted by his meeting with Jesus. One word: fear. Bear with me and you will see.
Not long after their first encounter, Jesus found Peter cleaning his nets at the shores of Galilee. Jesus got into Peter’s boat, pushed out a little, and continued to teach the crowd that was following Him from there. After He had finished, Jesus said to Peter, “Launch out to the deeper waters and let down your nets for a catch.” I can imagine Peter thinking “Who is he to tell me what to do? What does he know about catching fish?” The next part, Peter thought aloud: “We toiled all night and caught nothing.” But rather than disagreeing with Jesus, Peter decided to comply, confident that Jesus would be proven wrong and humiliated by the outcome.
Lo and behold, to everyone’s amazement, he caught a great catch; so much so that he alone could not pull in the net. His friends came to his rescue, and as they were pulling in the net, it began to break. Seeing what had just taken place, Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and worshiped Him. Worship is not singing songs, as we know it. Worship is about trust. So when the Peter worshiped Jesus, it meant that Peter trusted Jesus. Then Jesus said to Peter – and here is the explanation I owe you – “Do not fear. From now on you will be catching men.”
Think back to the first time you heard about Jesus Christ, about the first time you were “confronted” with the gospel. What was it like? How did you react? What did you do after that? Did you immediately believe Him? After you believed Him, was your life dramatically changed? I have found that most people’s lives – with only a few exceptions like drug addicts and gangsters – were not dramatically changed after they believed Christ. It was, if you will, “business as usual”. Their status has changed; they now call themselves “Christians” and they attend church on Sundays. Apart from that, there are little to no change in the way their live their lives. Most, I suspect, have attached to themselves, what I call, “Christian ornaments” so that others would identify them as Christians. But have they repented? Do they have true faith towards God? I can’t say ‘no’; and neither can I say ‘yes’. I guess we will all know on that Day.
God has a wonderful plan for our lives. We believe it. He had a wonderful plan for Peter’s life too – and Andrew’s, and Matthew’s, and Paul’s, etc. His wonderful plan for us is that we “conform to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). And when we have conformed to the image of His Son, we will likewise love God and serve Him and glorify Him as the Son did. But first, we must be willing to say “Not my will, but yours be done”.
I wish that your repentance will be complete. So, in order for that to happen, it must be initiated and led by the Holy Spirit. Take a few minutes now and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you sins in your life that you have not repented of and need to do so now.